When Hurt Runs Deep

“They should have to apologize, not me! “At some point in life we’ve all said this phrase. Whatever the reason, we understand that a conflict has occurred. And now, we have a choice. Do we freely forgive and forge ahead with love and acceptance…or do I fiercely fire darts of defense and fall back behind a wall of withdrawal, self-righteousness, and pride?

No matter who you are, you will cross paths with difficult people. Sometimes they have no intentions of hurting you, while other times…well they are just plain old disrespectful. So when intentions are meant for good, but signals are crossed remember, the best way in resolving conflict is not to take up an offense in the first place, especially when one was not intended.

But what about when there has been an obvious offense? Let’s look to Scripture for the answer. Whether we have been offended (Mark 11:25) or whether we have offended (Matt. 5:23-24), our admonition is to forgive and to love. The Matthew passage says we are to leave our gift at the altar—go make it right before we even come to worship. But how do these formal, flowery principles flesh out in the daily working out of our faith? We must forgive—and true forgiveness is a releasing.

“And his master’s heart was moved with compassion, and he released him and forgave him (canceling) the debt” (Matt.18:27 Amp).

The Greek word in the Matthew 18 passage for release is apoluo which means to free fully, release, let depart, loose, set at liberty. Forgive and forget? That is the tough part.

It is not humanly possible for the memory of the offense to be forever erased from our minds. We are not commanded to develop so type of spiritual amnesia. We are commanded to hold the offense against the person no longer. It is a releasing of the person who has hurt us to the Father — trusting the Father to deal with the situation. We are not to keep the offender in our personal prison of anger, stress and hurt.

Because the Father has forgiven each of us personally, it then becomes my responsibility to extend that forgiveness to others. Scripture says “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Eph. 4:32).

“So what about the pain? You just can’t erase the pain I’ve felt through forgiveness.” For the pain you have felt acknowledge it! David cried out to the Lord in the Psalms. Job aired his complaints. Jeremiah recorded his hurt as if it was a journal. So express your hurt in prayer in writing or to a friend. But then release it to the Father and let it go. If we do not make an attempt to resolve conflict, seeds of bitterness will begin to form deep in our souls.

The hardest offenses to forgive are situations that are just plain wrong. Perhaps an injustice has been done to us, our name has been been slandered or we have been falsely accused. No matter the act, still, we are to forgive.

The way we response to conflict is critical. The correct response is not to fire back with our own slanderous talk and actions. Nor does it necessarily mean that we rebuild and reunite with our slanderer as best friends. What it does mean is that we must forgive. And once we have forgiven, then we forge on with our lives in love! Col. 3:12-13 says “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity”

Today release one thing that you’ve been holding on to back to God for healing. Bless Everyone!

The Definition of a Leader

What does it mean to be a leader? How should a Christian leader carry themselves? There is no finer example for Christian leadership than our Lord Jesus Christ himself. He declared, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). It is within this verse that we see the perfect description of a Christian leader. He is one who acts as a shepherd to those “sheep” in his care.

When Jesus referred to us as “sheep,” He was not speaking in affectionate terms. In truth, sheep are helpless but do not realize it. A stray sheep, still within earshot of the herd, may become disoriented, confused, frightened, and incapable of finding its way back to the flock. Unable to ward off hungry predators, the stray is perhaps the most helpless of all creatures. Entire herds of sheep are known to have drowned during times of flash flooding even in sight of easily accessible higher ground. Like it or not, when Jesus called us His sheep, He was saying that without a shepherd, we are helpless.

The shepherd is one who has several roles in regard to his sheep. He leads, feeds, nurtures, comforts, corrects and protects. The shepherd of the Lord’s flock leads by modeling godliness and righteousness in his own life and encouraging others to follow his example. Of course, our ultimate example—and the One we should follow—is Christ Himself. The Apostle Paul understood this:
“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).
The Christian leader is one who follows Christ and inspires others to follow Him as well.

The Christian leader is also a feeder and a nourisher of the sheep, and the ultimate “sheep food” is the Word of God. Just as the shepherd leads his flock to the most lush pasture so they will grow and flourish, so the Christian leader nourishes his flock with the only food which will produce strong, vibrant Christians. The Bible—not psychology or the world’s wisdom—is the only diet that can produce healthy Christians. “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD” (Deuteronomy 8:3).

The Christian leader also comforts the sheep, binding up their wounds and applying the balm of compassion and love. As the great Shepherd of Israel, the Lord Himself promised to “bind up the injured and strengthen the weak” (Ezekiel 34:16). As Christians in the world today, we suffer many injuries to our spirits, and we need compassionate leaders who will bear our burdens with us, sympathize with our circumstances, exhibit patience toward us, encourage us in the Word, and bring our concerns before the Father’s throne.

Just as the shepherd used his crook to pull a wandering sheep back into the fold, so the Christian leader corrects and disciplines those in his care when they go astray. Without rancor or an overbearing spirit, but with a “spirit of gentleness” (Galatians 6:2), those in leadership must correct according to scriptural principles. Correction or discipline is never a pleasant experience for either party, but the Christian leader who fails in this area is not exhibiting love for those in his care. “The LORD disciplines those he loves” (Proverbs 3:12), and the Christian leader must follow His example.

The final role of the Christian leader is that of protector. The shepherd who was lax in this area soon found that he regularly lost sheep to the predators who prowled around—and sometimes among—his flock. The predators today are those who try to lure the sheep away with false doctrine, dismissing the Bible as quaint and old fashioned, insufficient, unclear, or unknowable. These lies are spread by those against whom Jesus warned us: “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves” (Matthew 7:15). Our leaders must protect us from the false teachings of those who would lead us astray from the truth of the Scripture and the fact that Christ alone is the way of salvation: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).